More hands-on support for rural communities

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy say around 100 more people will be trained to help farming families across the country access the support they need.

The commitment is the first part of the one-off $500,000 funding boost for mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities announced by the ministers at Fieldays.

“We recognise that some farmers are under considerable stress. The physical isolation as well as the uncertainties of being reliant on the land creates different pressures to those living in an urban setting,” says Dr Coleman.

“That’s why the Ministry of Health and Primary Industries have come together, with the support of the sector, to develop a work programme with local components linked to national coordination.”

In collaboration with Dairy NZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, up to 100 support people will be trained to work for Rural Support Trusts, providing guidance and support to farmers around the country. They will be able to recognise and refer those who need support.

“These trained part time workers and volunteers will help connect farming families with the wide variety of mental health, financial and advice services already available,” says Mr Guy.

“In addition, rural professionals including vets and farm advisors will be trained to recognise and refer.

“This expanded workforce support network has just started operating in the Waikato and more trained rural supporters will be working in communities by the end of September.

“Farmers are resourceful and are used to coping with all kinds of challenges. While this season may be tough for some, we know that many parts of the primary sector are seeing increased export returns. The medium to long term outlook for the primary sector is bright with the rise of Asia and growing global demand for high quality food products.”

Information support packs have also been mailed out today to farming leaders and organisations. These include the MPI brochure “Managing through tough times” and financial tips and advice provided by the New Zealand Bankers Association.

Work on the joint one-off $500,000 funding boost package continues with further details expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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